Storing Your Meals
Before you start making your meals, you need to know where you're going to put them afterwards, so you're going to need your containers, your labels and know where you're storing each meal.
In this step-by-step guide, I'm going to share with you the processes of UK national diet delivery companies that I've worked for. Follow these guidelines and you'll have fresh, nutritious and safe food to eat whether you're on the road or getting in after a busy day at work. There's a fair bit of information here, but stay with me. Once you have this as a habit, keeping a healthy diet will be much easier and you'll probably save a fair amount of time and money too!
I've already added a guide for the things you'll need and where you can get them, but to save you having to jump to another page, these are the things you'll need:
- Airtight containers
- Your food for the meals
- Space cleared in your fridge and/or freezer
How Does Food Spoil?
Food spoils for a number of reasons, the main ones being oxidation and microorganisms. You also have enzymes, insects, and physical damage. This article will be concerned most with meals that you've prepared to be heated up for eating at a later time or date but these factors also apply to fruits, vegetables and various other things that you may not be cooking.
The best Ways To Keep Food Fresh
Cook Your Meals Thoroughly
Make sure the food you cook is cooked thoroughly. You can use a thermometer or go by the simpler advice of 'make sure the food is piping hot throughout'. Cooking at high temperatures kills off bacteria and sanitises your food. if you don't cook your food properly you may find that it spoils more quickly than you'd expect.
Store in Airtight Containers
If you want your food to be fresh, you want to limit exposure to air. Oxidation is what makes food appear duller, what makes fats go rancid and in a lot of cases it's what makes food go off. By storing your meals in airtight packaging, you can reduce this significantly.
These can range from cheap as chips to quite expensive. Whichever you choose, you should make sure you have enough for at least a full week of prepared meals as you'll likely be making more meals before you've finished your previous week's food.
Label Your Meals
If you're anything like me, you have a dozen different things that require your attention and this can make certain things harder to keep track of. Labelling your food is a fool-proof way to make sure you know when you cooked the food, how it's stored and how long you have to use it before it begins to spoil. The extra 15 seconds per dish that this takes will make everything much easier down the road so don't skip this step!
Store It In The Right Place
Microorganisms are another factor in food spoilage. These can grow quickly at room temperature, slowly in fridge temperatures and barely if at all in freezer temperatures. Luckily, we tend to be over concerned with this rather than under concerned but the foods your prepare yourself are only going to have use by dates on them if you put them on there (which you should!), so you need to pay a little attention while you're getting used to it.
- Meals at room temperature should be consumed the same day or within hours during high temperature weather.
- Meals that you plan to eat within the next 3-4 days can go in the fridge.
- Meals you plan to eat more than 4 days in the future need to be stored in the freezer.